Eleeza Betooser wanted that treasure to insure safety for the children through whatever troubles might come to their propagandist father. And finally the propagandist father gave way, and the woman proceeded to secure the money in the ancient way of her sex. She took the ten crisp bills and sewed them in a layer of cloth, and wound the cloth about the ankle of her right leg, and sewed it there, and put a stocking over it to hide it. And that apparatus would stay there—day or night, winter or summer, it would never part from its owner. She would be a walking bank, a bank that she knew was safe from panic or crisis; the feeling of the two hundred dollars about her ankle would be communicated to every part of Lizzie—warming her heart, delighting her brain, and stimulating her liver and digestion.
And soon the chances of life caused Jimmie to be glad of the innate conservatism of the feminine nature. The giant British offensive was drowned in mud and blood on the Somme, and the Russian offensive went to pieces before Lemberg; and meantime John Cutter stowed his barrels of apples in the cellar, and got the last of his corn-crop husked, and drove his load of pumpkins to market; and then one Saturday night, after the cows had come in, wet and steaming with November rain, he informed his hired man that he would not need his services after that month, he would no longer be able to afford “help”.
Jimmie stared at him in consternation—for he had thought that he had a permanent job, having learned the work and having heard no serious complaints.
“But,” explained Cutter, “the work’s all done. Do you expect me to pay you to sit round? I’ll be glad to take you on next spring, of course.”
“And what’ll I do in the meantime?” Jimmie glared, and all his hatred of the villainous profit-system welled up in his heart. So much food he had helped to raise and store away—and not a pound of it his! “Say,” he remarked, “I know what you want! Some kind of a trained bear, that’ll work all summer, and go to sleep in winter an’ not eat nothin’!”
The little Socialist was all the crosser, because he knew that his boss had just made a lucky stroke—they were running a spur on the railroad out to the vast explosives plant they were constructing in the country, and Cutter had got the price of his mortgage for a narrow strip of land that was nothing but wood-lot. Jimmie had seen the deal made, and had put in a useful word as to the value of that “timber”, but now he had no share in the deal. He must be content with an offer of the tenant-house for five dollars a month through the winter, and a job with the rail-road company, grading track.